Seeing red in the Green Zone

Like a number of other bloggers, I’ve pretty much stopped postings about the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Re-reading my blog entries from three or four years ago, the most common tag was “Politics” ((I didn’t add the “Stupidity” and “Violent world” categories until recently.)), and there was a constant stream of new outrages to get worked up about. And we did.
Five years on, everybody seems numb. There’s nothing new to write about: no political breakthroughs, no strategic shifts, no new insights. But the most telling thing is that people – politicians, press, candidates, the military – just keep steadily lowering expectations. Even the “Magic pony”, the marvellous “Surge” that would stabilize things to give politics a chance, is crumbling. There’s been no political progress, the US body count is up to 4,000, and yesterday the death toll was nearly 60. Remember John McCain’s jaunty walk through the Baghdad market last April? Not this time. And as Juan Cole reports, even the Green Zone isn’t safe:

The Green Zone was subjected to repeated mortar and rocket attacks on Sunday, which killed 1 American and 4 others inside, and at least a dozen on its edges (because those firing them were bad shots). The Green Zone is where the US Embassy and major Iraqi government buildings are. It had been a little safer recently, or at least the Pentagon was peddling that line to CNN during last week’s commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the war (see the CNN piece below). It is a measure of how the war objectives keep being defined down, that for the Green Zone to be relatively safe was trumpeted as an accomplishment. The “green zone” was always supposed to be safe, since it was heavily guarded and surrounded by blast walls.

The most ironic aspect of all this is that Bush has been trying to talk up the situation in Iraq, and how the surge has “turned things around” ((By about 360°, as far as I can see.)), in order to distract people from the state of the economy. I imagine he’s trying to help McCain, who probably needs it: as Josh points out at TPM:

John McCain’s primary economics advisor, former Sen. Phil Gramm (R), is probably as responsible for setting the stage for this crisis as anyone in the country through his legislative role in the deregulation of the financial services industry.

UPDATE: For those who are not completely numbed, this piece on the reality of the “surge” is well worth reading.